Plaster of Paris; chapter thirteen, part two

Lyle starts to say something, then stops.  I look at him inquiringly.  He reminds me that he talked to Ursula and Lois Wednesday morning.  That leaves them out of the running as Paris’s twin was attacked on Wednesday.  His news dismays me for a minute until I ask what time he saw them Wednesday morning.  When I find out it was eight or so in the morning and that Lyle had stayed there just over half an hour, that put them back in the running.  The assault happened around seven at night, so there would have been time for one of them to talk to Lyle in the morning, hop on a plane, do the dirty deed and be back in San Francisco before anyone was the wiser.  The boys might not even have known she was gone.  We are so engrossed in our discussion, I forget I was about to call Ursula’s sons.

Lyle wants to know to which she I am referring, and I shrug my shoulders.  It could have been either, though the timing is tight.  Even if they were in town, that doesn’t prove anything.  Either one of them could have hired someone to try to kill Robin.  In fact, that would probably be safer.  Lyle doesn’t agree.  He thinks paying someone else to kill Robin means there’s one more person who knows the secret and has the potential to blackmail the contractor.  Besides, he can’t see Ursula hiring a hit man, especially as she’s so high-profile.  Blackmailing her would be a cinch if she were stupid enough to hire a hit man.  Lyle does agree that either Ursula or Lois could have flown to Minneapolis and attacked Robin, but just barely.  Besides, if the assailant was a female, wouldn’t that have been mentioned?

I am warming to my hypothesis and remind him eagerly that Ursula was recently in Minnesota and had actually visited Robin, so she’d know the layout of the land.  Besides, how big can Minnesota be?  As for flying, that wouldn’t be a problem for Ursula.  If Ursula Meadows needs to travel on short notice, Ursula Meadows would have a seat.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a direct hotline to an airline as she’s almost an ambassador of San Francisco.  And the gender thing?  Everybody has to wear parkas and such shit in Minnesota, so the gender would have been obscured.  The more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to choose Ursula over Lois as far as opportunity.  I can’t see Lois spending any amount of money on hunting down Paris’s twin.  As for motive, however, Lois has the edge in spades.  I seesaw back and forth, weighing the evidence on both sides.  I can tell by the look on Lyle’s face that he’s having the same dilemma.

Lyle wonders if Mr. Jenson had anything to do with the attempted murders, though he’s doesn’t think Mrs. Jenson is involved.  Lyle is convinced that Mr. Jenson’s overwhelming hatred for queers is enough motive for him to have committed murder.  I agree slowly that Mr. Jenson is perfectly capable of killing, but I also believe he really loves his wife.  It would devastate her if Paris were to die, especially so soon after the death of his younger half-sister; Mr. Jenson isn’t going to do anything to push her over the edge.  Besides, I can’t believe that the strangulation of Robin isn’t connected to the attempted murder of Paris, and I can’t fit Mr. Jenson into that scenario no matter how much I try.  If Lyle were the one hit, I’d give more credence to the idea of Mr. Jenson as the would-be murderer, however.

I wonder what we’re going to tell Paris about his twin.  Lyle and I are both silent, trying to think what to do about that particular conundrum.  Paris found out about being adopted in an especially nasty way.  Just as he started coming to grips with that, his baby half-sister died.  Then his birthmother steps into his life right before he’s hit.  How does one tell him simultaneously that he has a twin and that she’s also in the hospital?  Not to mention that it was his half-sister who tried to seduce him, as Lyle reminds me.  I shake my head.  So many secrets in that family—the onion beginning to unpeel with so many more layers to go.  I could kill Ursula, I really could.  Who does she think she is waltzing into Paris’s life after so many years, then telling lie after lie?  I also wonder if she’s lying on purpose or if in her mind, she’s merely embellishing.

Lyle shrugs his shoulders impatiently.  He thinks she lies deliberately.  He doesn’t buy the excuse that she’s a writer and it’s what writers do.  He thinks she would lie regardless of her profession because she enjoys lying.  I can accept that premise, but I still can’t understand this elaborate scheme of hers.  What’s her ulterior motive?  Why has it taken her so long to find Paris and Robin, and why now?  Why lie about not having seen the birthfather in twenty-some odd years?  The realization hits both of us at the same time.  We have another viable suspect—the birthfather.  But what would be his motive?

Perhaps he doesn’t want his current family to know, I suggest.  It’s difficult to see how a man could justify using homicide as a method of covering up a past affair, especially as this is the Bay Area.  Who would care?  Lyle is struck by another thought.  How do we even know ‘Benny’ is the father?  I’m beginning to realize that everything Ursula told us could very well be a lie, including the fact that they only had sex once.  If only we could get hold of the birthfather.  I don’t believe Ursula doesn’t know his full name, especially as she’s seen him ‘once or twice’ since that fateful night almost thirty years ago.  It’s obvious that talking to Ursula is a necessary step in clearing up much of this confusion, but it’s too late to call her.  Now that I’ve calmed down, my rational side prevails.  This can wait until the morning.

“I feel as if she’s this master puppet pulling our strings,” Lyle grumbles, looking as disgruntled as I feel.  “I’m going to bed.”  It’s only eleven, but I feel as if I’ve been up forever.  I decide to sleep, too.  Getting eight hours of sleep for once should do me a world of good, and god knows I need it right now.  To sleep, perchance, not to dream.

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